The fabulous Tim Curry (Dr. Frank-N-Furter himself!) stars as the child-eating-fear-demon (well really, he's more of an interdimensional-being, but whatever!), who often takes the form of Pennywise the 'dancing' (read 'insane') clown. Pennywise plays with his victims, either luring them to their death like a Kelpie, or by simply scaring them to death by transforming into their worst fear. We see him lure a small girl to her death at the start of the film.
When Mike (Tim Reid, who is the dad from 'Sister, Sister') is at the scene of the crime, he spots an old photo lying on the grass. The photo is of a small boy, who he recognises as the deceased younger brother of one of his old school friends, Bill. Bill's baby brother, Georgie (Tony Dakota) was one of Pennywise's victims in the 60s, when Mike and his pals were all children. It was Georgie's death which started the group's adventurous involvement with crazy clown man.
Mike calls up all his old friends, who have since moved away from the small Maine town of Derry, and have forgotten most of their childhoods and all about Pennywise, thanks to the creature's magical defences. The gang make their way back to Derry at the pleading of Mike, and slowly begin to remember what had happened there.
The film is really following one storyline, the group vanquishing 'IT'. But the film shows two stories, the group battling IT as children, and then again as adults when the creature rises again.
As children, the group were: African-American Mike (Marlon Taylor) who is facing the still very racist bullies at school, talented writer Bill (Jonathan Brandis) who blames himself for the death of his young brother at the hands of the demented Clown, lone girl in the group Beverly (Emily Perkins) who has an abusive father, funny guy Richie (a young, but remarkably completely recognisable Seth Green), hypochondriac asthmatic Eddie (Adam Faraizl), competent and intelligent Ben (Brandon Crane) who is bullied for being fat, but by today's standards, he's pretty normal and Stan (Ben Heller), who is introduced as a Jewish boyscout and a birdwatcher.
As adults, the group are: still-in-Derry, Mike (Tim Reid), horror writer (who's totally based on Stephen King himself) Bill (Richard Thomas), fashion designer in an abusive relationship, Beverly (Annette O'Toole), TV comedian Richie (Harry Anderson), virgin limo business owner Eddie (Dennis Christopher), famous, and no longer fat, architect Ben (John Ritter) and real estate broker Stan (Richard Masur).
The film is quite long at 195minutes, and the DVD is one of those ones where you have to flip it over half way through to see the rest of the film. This is because the film was shown as a two parter on TV.
Despite the length, the film isn't boring and the special effects are excellent. There's a lot of blood, but it's not gory, usually coming from sinks, balloons and other odd places. The film and characters are very 80s. Since it came out in 1990, this isn't a criticism. Most of the characters, except the main characters, are unlikable and cruel. But this is on purpose, to build up group dynamic and emphasize the group's status as losers.
Pennywise is the epitome of creepy and really a complete and utter nightmare monster. A real modern classic in that respect. Tim Curry is one of the masters at creating demented characters, and really brings the fear guzzling creature to life, probably fuelling quite a few people's fear of clowns over the years, too!
The dialogue isn't always the smartest, but that isn't the most important part of the film. And the end left me a little non-plussed. The undertheme, as common to King books, is about being the oddball, beating the odds and bullying (whether it be by greaser teens, or by monsters).
A classic and an excellent film all round, I recommend "IT" as a must see!
[Picture: Lorimar Productions, DawnField Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television]